Thursday, 11 August 2011

Can you worship God to secular music?

Vicky Beeching has written (4 months ago) a piece on whether non-Christians should play in a worship band (HT: Phil (I recently found out that 'HT' means 'hat tip' - mystery solved at last!)).

Whilst that issue begs a post for itself, I was more compelled by some of the comments below. Atkins5614 (clearly a fan of diets) asks the question
What if I told you that I feel very close to God when I am listening to music played by non-Christians? Essentially, they are leading me into worship by their amazing skill. I find myself basking in the glow of God because of what they are playing. 

To which Vicky B replies
I agree... some of my most powerful times with God have been when listening to U2 or Sigur Ros. Interesting eh?? 

Very interesting indeed. Most rock-loving Christians would be quick to point out that a fair few of U2's songs are in fact about Jesus. And Sigur Ros just sound like they're singing in tongues, but that's because the frontman is, in fact, singing his own made-up language most of the time. But can their music really lead us into a 'powerful time with God'?


I'd like to answer that question in the most annoyingly helpful way I know; by asking another question...

What is music?

Music is an amazing product of human beings harnessing properites of the physical world, i.e. Physics and Maths. If I create a sound wave with a frequency of 440 Hertz and stop that sound at equal intervals I am actually playing the note A repeatedly. The most beautiful symphony can be stripped down into waves, vibrations, frequencies etc. just like a rose is actually a combination of different types of atoms.

What I'm trying to say is that music is a part of God's creation. As such, it has the ability to stir our spirits to worship Him, much the same as seeing incredible views out of your airplane window. <This is a link you really need to click by the way.

Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring can be just as soul-stirring as that view across the Himalayas, even if the orchestra playing it are out-and-out atheists. So yes, I'd say that 'secular' music can lead us to worship God.

However, I haven't yet mentioned Music's long-time companion - a certain Mr. Lyrics who likes to show up almost anywhere Mme. Music makes an appearance. Many times I've asked myself "Why do I like In Christ Alone so much? Is it because of the tune or the lyrics?" Never has the answer to any question been so obviously 'both' since the whole Preach the Gospel Vs Acts of Kindness discussion.

So, yes, while a particular harmony might stir your heart to worship God - a stirred heart has to overflow (like a too-vigorously-stirred mug of coffee), and that overflow is more likely to be a chorus of How Great is Our God than a rendition of Sunday, Bloody Sunday.

1 comment:

evenifministries said...

You might be interested in something I wrote on this topic recently:

http://evenifministries.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/do-lyrics-to-songs-matter/